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Flashback Weekend Drive-In Film Festival

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As part of the Flashback Weekend horror convention, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare in Rosemont, the hotel's west parking lot will be converted into an open-air theater. Patrons are invited to bring blankets and lawn chairs (the "drive-in" part is purely sentimental). Tickets are $15, $5 for children 12 and under; for more information call 847-478-0119 or visit www.flashbackweekend.com.

R The Devil's Rejects

Rock musician Rob Zombie made his feature-directing debut with House of 1000 Corpses (2003), a gruesome tribute to 70s horror exploitation movies that was spoiled by its campy excesses and self-conscious montage of clips from classics. For this sequel he's settled down to business, and his story of a family of serial killers (Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon) on the run from a vengeful sheriff (William Forsythe) in 1978 captures the cold, cruel urgency of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The sadism of 1000 Corpses is ameliorated here by the addition of an action plot and open spaces, and the comedy is more skillfully played, mingling agreeably with Zombie's ardor for southern trash culture (the final showdown plays out to the strains of "Freebird," for heaven's sake). R, 101 min. (JJ) Haig and other cast members will introduce the screening. a Fri 7/28, 11:30 PM.

From Beyond

An obsessional plunge into H.P. Lovecraft land from former Chicago Organic Theater director Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator), about a demented scientist (Jeffrey Combs) who establishes contact with an unappetizing assortment of creatures "from beyond." There's an interesting semichoreographic line to the movement and blocking of this 1986 release, but the visual execution's a mess: Gordon still hasn't mastered the elements of his craft. The gross-out sliminess and sex are supposed to provide purgation, but all Gordon does is gawk at 'em for what seems like forever: his voyeurism's too unpleasant for casual entertainment, too mild to constitute a pornographic vision. The actors continually camp up (especially Combs), though I just love the way they hang on their lines for an extra fraction of a second: that's theater training for you. With Barbara Crampton, Ted Sorel, Ken Foree, and Carolyn Purdy-Gordon. R, 85 min. (PG) Foree and producer Charles Band will introduce the screening. a Sat 7/29, 11:30 PM.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

The Halloween franchise stalled after Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1983) tried to introduce a new story line and characters and flopped at the box office. This 1988 sequel jump-started the series by bringing back masked psycho Michael Myers, who sets out to kill his young niece (Danielle Harris) but has to keep one step ahead of his dogged psychiatrist (Donald Pleasence). R, 88 min. Harris will introduce the screening.

a Fri 7/28, 8:45 PM.

They Live

John Carpenter's 1988 SF action-thriller about aliens taking over the earth through the hypnotic use of TV. The explicit anti-Reagan satire--the aliens are developers who regard human beings as cattle, aided by yuppies who are all too willing to cooperate for business reasons--is strangely undercut and confused by a xenophobic treatment of the aliens that also makes them virtual stand-ins for the Vietcong. Carpenter's wit and storytelling craft make this fun and watchable, although the script takes a number of unfortunate shortcuts, and the possibilities inherent in the movie's central conceit are explored only cursorily. All in all, an entertaining (if ideologically incoherent) response to the valorization of greed, with lots of Rambo-esque violence thrown in, as well as an unusually protracted slugfest between ex-wrestler Roddy Piper and costar Keith David. R, 97 min. (JR) Piper will introduce the screening. a Sat 7/29, 9 PM.

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